Hippos Below


Meet Alain.


Alain is the friendly person who, when I asked if anybody had a shortie whitewater kayak to borrow, for fear that my own longer one would not turn around in the tunnel, said not only "yes" but also, quite embarassingly cleverly, "why don't you just go in in a nice long comfy one and turn yourself round instead?"

He also, rather splendidly two days ago said, "I'm going to be in the midlands on Saturday. With my Canadian open canoe. Do you want to go and do that geocache?" With due consideration I calmly and without betraying my glee said,


...and thus it was that we met this morning in Newent for an adventure. (I'd already had one. Lair of The Lost Boys - http://coord.info/GC30P7T - is well worth travelling early for!)

Frustratingly Alain's massive van would not fit into the minimal gap remaining since two cars were already parked at the Parking waypoint. Happily we carried on and followed the lane as it turned back on itself and the kind lady in the farmhouse up the hill let us park opposite their entrance - which meant we ended up carrying a large laden canoe through a field full of sheep....

It also meant of course, no less ridiculously, that we ended up carrying a large laden canoe along a distinctly muddy and somewhat treacherous path.

Part way along it looked as if there was enough water in the canal to paddle, so Alain jumped in while I walked on ahead to see if the route further on was navigable. It so very wasn't! So it was back onto the now much muddier towpath for the final push. It was now that Alain regretted not putting on the wetsuit socks that he had with him but which, by now, were entirely pointless.

Once at the hippos' front door it was an easy launch and somewhat of a surprise. The cache has not been logged since October last year and yet... what's that?... Surely not.....? Yep. It's torches. Them's people! The torchlight looks a little low though. They're surely not.... swimming?! They were some way off still... Eventually the first person to appear was paddling a large plastic bag. It wasn't supposed to be a large plastic bag... It seemed to have started life as a firmly inflated dinghy, but by the time we came across him it had lost all of its puff.

"Did you find it?" we asked breezily.

"No. Although, to be honest, I was more preoccupied with not sinking and had to turn back."

"Would you like some help?"

"No thanks!" he said, confidently, as he paddled on following a gradient down of about 1 in 20...

Shortly thereafter, more people. "Hello! Did you find the box?!"... "No... we searched for ages, but it's not there."

Oh no. Maybe somebody dropped it in...? We sure as **** aren't going to turn back without exploring (and hunting) at this point. And on we paddled, occasionally knocking into the walls because everything was just so ace! The calcification made the tunnel in places look like a terrifying alien trachea. The dozen or so pipistrelles were great. And the air shaft was brilliant, although it was raining hard in a perfect circle beneath it, making it quite difficult to look up! We also paddled right to the end and hopped out for an explore in what looked quite humblingly like a very significant and scary collapse. Paddling right to the far end meant also, gratifyingly, that we of course spotted, with no trouble whatsoever...


Sorry guys. You just didn't go far enough. I thought it was much further than the distance given in the hint, but on this Alain disagreed and we decided that probably distance in the open seems not as far as distance in a narrow dark tunnel.

Thanks for a brilliant and completely ridiculous cache. We found no TBs in the box despite the inventory, so hopefully those will be logged by somebody soon.

Not easy to get lost